Sunday, March 28, 2010

Slow Cooker Recipe: Pork and Apricot with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Here’s the second offering of easy, make ahead meals for Holy Week. I first made this dish the Christmas Bill and I spent with our daughter in New York. Her work schedule precluded traveling for Christmas so we loaded up the Prius with gifts and goodies for holiday meals, including Christmas table clothes and napkins.

Our Christmas breakfast included our traditional Danish, quiche, and French toast (watch for these recipes in December). For dinner I chose this recipe, preparing the ingredients on Christmas Eve afternoon, refrigerating the Crockpot insert overnight, and then cooking it on Christmas Day. Our plan was to eat dinner around 6:00 pm. Great plan except: I put the insert into the Crockpot, turned it on, and, as I discovered a few hours later, neglected to plug in the Crockpot. On to Plan B: putting everything in a roasting pan in the oven and eating dinner later than originally planned.

I’ve since made this many times (in the Crock Pot). It is great for dinner with lots of leftovers for lunch during the week.

Pork and Apricot with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Makes 8 servings
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 7 to 9 hours on low; 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours on high

2 ½ lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½” chunks
3 ½ to 4 lb boneless pork shoulder roast
1 tsp dried tarragon, crushed
1 ½ tsp fennel seed, crushed (if I don’t have this on hand, I omit it)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp cooking oil (I use olive oil)
1 14-oz can chicken broth (or equivalent homemade)
¾ apricot nectar (I use apple juice, or if I don’t have any, I omit this and add equivalent in water)
½ cup dried apricots
4 tsp cornstarch

1. Place sweet potatoes in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.
2. Trim fat from pork roast.
3. Combine the tarragon, fennel seed, garlic, salt, and pepper in small bowl; rub onto pork roast.
4. In a very large skillet, brown roast on all sides in hot oil. Drain off fat. Place meat on top of sweet potatoes in cooker.
5. Pour broth and ½ cup of the apricot nectar over all.
6. Cover and cook for on low-heat setting for 7 to 9 hours or on high heat setting for 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours, adding the dried apricots for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
7. With a slotted spoon, transfer pork and apricots to serving platter. Transfer sweet potatoes to a large bowl; mash with a potato masher.
8. Strain cooking liquid into a glass-measuring cup. Skim fat from liquid; discard fat. Reserve 2 cups liquid (if necessary add chicken broth to equal 2 cups).
9. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup apricot nectar and the cornstarch. In a medium saucepan, combine cooking liquid and the cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly; cook 2 minutes longer. *
10. Serve with pork and mashed sweet potatoes.

*Omit this step if you are too tired or too busy. The pork, apricots, and sweet potatoes taste fine without it.

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